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Gavin Escapes A Decade Of Heroin, Homelessness

Feb 16, 2018

Growing up in Orange County, Gavin was always active, playing football and riding BMX and dirt bikes. He developed an interest in welding and went to college to perfect the trade, and enjoyed spending time with his long-term girlfriend. But after his relationship ended, Gavin was devastated. “I took the break up really hard,” Gavin said. “It seemed like everything changed overnight and I was lost.”

It was during that time that Gavin ran into some friends he rode bikes with when he was younger. They started hanging out, and they offered Gavin something to smoke. They told him it was “H.” “I said, ‘What’s that?’ It didn’t even occur to me that it would be heroin,” Gavin said.

Gavin said he declined, but eventually caved. “I had been trying to mask those feelings of being hurt and depressed,” he said. “By the end of that night, I made the worst decision of my life. I tried it and I loved it. It took away all those feelings I was trying so hard to run from. I found the tool that I’d been looking for to fix my problems. But it was a lie.”

After smoking for a year, Gavin started using needles. “I remember one day I was sitting in my room, and I thought to myself, ‘I couldn’t quit if I wanted to right now.’ That’s when I realized I was in way over my head.” Gavin told his parents what he had been doing. “They were blown away, and didn’t know what to do. After that I tried other programs, but they didn’t work.”

Gavin lost his welding job and ended up on the streets. “It was terrible. Sleeping on a bench, having your stuff stolen, having crazy confrontations. The whole lifestyle is dark. Out there it’s a different world—crime, stealing, fighting—all the stuff you don’t need in your life that you have to do on a daily basis to survive.”

Gavin’s life was “like a broken record.” He would seek help, but it never stuck, and within months he’d be back on the streets. “They tell you how great it feels, but you don’t ever hear how bad it feels when you can’t get it, and all the problems it’s going to bring into your life. … It made me feel worse than I’ve ever felt in my life. I don’t care how strong of a man you are, heroin will bring you to your knees and strip everything you care about from your life. And there’s no stopping it until you are ready to give in and get help, with God’s grace.”

Gavin would use for almost a decade before entering the mission’s program. “After a couple weeks, I started to feel better and get my strength back,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing when you have a roof over your head and food to eat and people who are actually there for you and keep you focused on your relationship with God.”

Now nearing graduation, Gavin is grateful to the mission’s donors. “It’s really a God send to have a place like this. They really prepare you for when you get back into the real world. The focus is on being reliable and accountable and a productive and healthy member of society.”

Gavin hopes to return to welding and eventually get married and have kids. But for now, he’s looking forward to spending time with his friends and family. “I haven’t been there for them for all these years—now I can.”

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